RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - A two-week break for the Winter Olympics did nothing to change the Carolina Hurricanes' third-period magic.
Aaron Ward scored two goals - including the go-ahead score late in the third - to help the Hurricanes rally for a 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night, giving Carolina its seventh win when trailing entering the final period.
Ray Whitney and Oleg Tverdovsky added goals for the Hurricanes, who have won all three games with Boston this season by 4-3 scores.
Carolina earned its 40th win, marking only the third such season in franchise history. The Hurricanes have already surpassed their previous high of 38 wins since moving from Hartford before the 1997-98 season.
Carolina, which leads the Eastern Conference with 84 points and is only a point behind Detroit from the overall lead, improved to 25-5-1 at home to move to within one win of a franchise record. Detroit beat Anaheim 2-0 on Wednesday night.
All of it came thanks to another strong third period, rallying from a 3-2 deficit on scores from Whitney and Ward, a defenseman who matched his career best with two goals. Carolina's seven wins when trailing after two periods are tied for second-best in the NHL, and the Hurricanes have outscored opponents 81-54 in the final period this season.
"It's our identity," Ward said. "We're a well-conditioned team, a team that doesn't quit on our ideals. We our there doing the same things. Teams start to fall apart when they start doing individual things on the ice, and we maintained a solid disciplined team performance out there."
Marco Sturm, David Tanabe and Sergei Samsonov scored for the Bruins, who have won one of their past six games. The Bruins also lost left winger P.J. Axelsson, who assisted on Tanabe's goal, late in the second period with a lower-body injury.
"The result wasn't what we wanted it to be, but the effort pretty much was," said Boston goalie Tim Thomas, who finished with 25 saves. "Obviously, we were just a little off. They're a good team, but we had the lead. We should have won the game."
After Whitney tied it at 3 early in the third, Niklas Nordgren corralled the puck along the boards on the left side and sent a pass in front of the crease. The pass was apparently was for Whitney, with Ward skating in on the right side expecting a rebound chance.
But the puck was "sitting perfectly," said Ward, who fired a shot past Thomas for the 4-3 lead with 4:24 left.
Ward also scored early in the second period, taking a pass from Rod Brind'Amour and beating Thomas from outside the right circle for a 2-1 lead.
The biggest problem for Carolina was its second-period performance. The Bruins scored two goals in 23 seconds - both coming off turnovers - to push ahead midway through the period. Still, coach Peter Laviolette wasn't going to complain with his team's performance coming out of the break.
"I would hope we come out the way we did tonight, with a sense of urgency and put the foot on the gas and be the best team in the league," Laviolette said.
Boston tied it at 2 when Tanabe scored while trailing on a 2-on-1 push after Carolina turned it over in the offensive zone. Then, after a Carolina turnover in its own end after the faceoff, Samsonov faked to draw goalie Cam Ward out then pushed the puck behind him on the left side at 11:53 of the period.
Carolina tied it on Whitney's power-play goal. He took a between-the-legs drop pass from Cory Stillman and beat Thomas from between the circles 3 1/2 minutes into the third.
Notes: Axelsson was injured when he fell awkwardly on a hit by Aaron Ward along the boards. He clutched at his left knee before limping off the ice and into the tunnel. ... The game marked a homecoming of sorts for Tanabe, who was Carolina's first-round draft pick in 1999 and spent four seasons with the team before being traded in 2003. ... Four players - Carolina's Stillman and Erik Cole, and Boston's Brad Boyes and Glen Murray - each tallied assists to push their point streaks to five games. ... Carolina now has 219 goals on the season, surpassing the previous Carolina high of 217 set most recently in 2001-02.